Don't Piss Off Your IT Customers

Did you just bring down the entire executive staff on your head because while you were eating a hot pastrami on rye your cell phone played Ina Gada Da Vida, the ring tone you reserved for that exotic DBA with the naughty look you met at the Thailand Oracle User Group last week while you were 'sposed to be talking to potential clients, you slacker, and in your haste to grab the call, you gripped the rye bread too hard, squeezing out a giant glob of mustard that landed square in your lap just as you were trying to say "Hey" all cool and smooth like you knew how to handle that kinda woman, so while she purred something innocuous but not, you lodged the cell phone between your shoulder and ear so you could reach for the only piece of paper on your desk, the copy of the presentation you have to deliver in 8 minutes, so you could try to clean off the mustard spot because IT guys tend to make a better impression on customers when they don't show up with a giant mustard stain in the middle of their dress slacks, but while reaching for the presentation you wound up smacking the Esc key with your elbow and canceling the installation of the software that takes 28 minutes to install that you were going to demo with the presentation you are going to make in what, 7 minutes now?

You need to read this article.

Ten Best Practices for a Successful Customer Solution Engagement

Edward Clay, the author, has distilled a career's worth of sound advice into one white paper. He begins by listing the typical errors that are repeated by unsuccessful customer engagements, such as:

  • Confusion about tactical sales versus strategic sales
  • Poor communication about the final deployed solution
  • Scope creep
  • Confusion about when to use a time-and-materials versus fixed-pricing engagement
  • Regulatory or fiduciary requirements and security requirements not addressed or addressed late in the architecture design or deployment process
  • Current internal IT practices (that is, IT maturity level) not addressed during the development of the solution nor for the final state
  • And more

He then goes on to provides ways to avoid these problems in your customer engagements, with wisdom and techniques born of experience. I found the section on the risks and benefits of tactical vs strategic sales wicked interesting. And the section on the maturity level of a site's security infrastructure was terrific.

Complete contents are:

  1. The Sales Process: Product Sales Versus Solution Sales
  2. The Scope of the Project
  3. Communication During the Delivery and the Handoff
  4. Time-and-Material Versus Fixed-Price Delivery
  5. IT Maturity Level
  6. Security Maturity Level
  7. Pre-sales and Delivery Architecture
  8. The Role of Security Architecture
  9. The Pros and Cons of Using Partners
  10. Documentation and Customer Training for Products

This is a great read, whether you deal directly with customer's IT problems or not.

By the way, you should have dropped the sandwich, Mister Smooth.

- Rick
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